The last time the Canadian chemistry community met in person was 2019 in Quebec City. It sure feels like 30 (or more) years ago. The world has changed, yet the love for our chemistry community remains undeniable. As the brand-new Executive Director of the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC), what a privilege it was for me to be engaged in our first in-person Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition: Diversity and Innovation in Chemistry in my hometown of Calgary.

In case you have not heard, the popular “CSC” acronym made its return for our beloved conference. The Board of Directors from the Canadian Society of Chemistry decided merely hours before the opening ceremony. #CSC2022 started trending in no time.

Planning the first “post-COVID” in-person conference was not without its challenges. What if COVID cases rose again? What if the conference went virtual again? What if attendees hesitated to register? There were many “what ifs” though the Conference Organizing Committee and the CIC’s National Team, having gone through three years of planning, had untiring perseverance and relentless energy. Given what was within our control (considering the declaration of the City of Calgary’s State of Local Emergency due to rain and the COVID pandemic), this conference had an impressive outcome.

2077 chemical science attendees. 2300+ abstracts. ~ 250 sessions.

From my perspective, I was in awe of the variety and comprehension of the topics covered at the conference. It was filled with the usual signature events: distinguished plenary sessions, award presentations, technical oral and poster presentations, professional development programs, presentations by the industrial delegates, ChemiSTEAM contest, Chemistry in Canada 2067 flash presentations by undergraduate students, and various social events. Capping that amazing program were our first efforts to create an accessible event thanks to pioneering efforts from the Working for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (WIDE) committee and others. I appreciate that the chemical sciences community has a long way to go when it comes to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) though I would like to celebrate that our journey has begun.

How might we define success for CSC 2022? We can certainly count the number of abstract submissions. Additionally, I would argue that we witnessed many moments of laughter, hugs, and learning. I would propose that the ability to connect and collaborate is vital and enabled by the chemistry community coming together to talk about their research in person. I would suggest that talking about “Embedding EDI into science is work. Do the Work” openly at one of the plenaries by Dr. Imogen Coe is evidence of our commitment to becoming a more inclusive community.

Thank you to everyone who put in their heart and soul to make #CSC2022 happen. A big shoutout to the volunteers, conference attendees, plenary speakers, symposia organizers, Technical Program team, Conference Organizing Committee, and the National Team for making our first in-person in three years such a memorable experience.

Looking forward to seeing you all at CSC 2023: Chemistry at the Edge from June 4 – 8, 2023 in Vancouver!